By Fr. Andy Sensenig OMI
One of the most joyful and beautiful aspects of being a priest for almost 19 years as well as being a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate for almost 25 years is administering the Sacrament of Baptism.
There is a joy of the parents, the steadfastness of the godparents, the pride of grandparents, and the watchfulness of the brothers, sisters and cousins of the child about to be baptized — who is at times at a loss as to what is going on, especially when the waters of baptism touch their head.
I have had the baptized child cry; get mad and other reactions that are better not mentioned in polite company.
Well, on August 20, 2016 at our parish picnic, here at St. Gregory Nazianzen in Sitka, the shoe was on the other foot. I got into a dunk trap on loan from our local fire station and children got an opportunity to baptize the pastor.
I never saw children so patient in waiting to throw a softball. They were encouraging each to take a “good aim” and “throw hard” so yours truly got wet. Thank God for a generous person who lent me a dry suit, or I would have frozen for sure.
The most memorable comment of the day came from an older parishioner who shared with me that he was envious of the children, not because of their opportunity to get the pastor dunked, but that the children here have a pastor who is a friend of the children. He said that he was raised to fear the pastor. He is grateful that children here are learning a different way to relate to their pastor.
With that said, all the splashes in the cold water and joyful squeals of laughter were worth it and then some. Life is good being a parish priest in Southeast Alaska. Joy is never in short supply.